MAREEBA Shire Council today handed down its $48.4 million 2021/22 Budget, keeping its promise to deliver a fiscally responsible spend that takes all ratepayers into consideration.
Mayor Angela Toppin said the 2021/22 Budget adhered to its long-term financial plan and was designed to ensure Council’s long-term financial sustainability while minimising the burden of ratepayers.
“As per the forecast, Council was able to keep the general rate increase to 2.5 per cent which is the minimum required to ensure services and community assets are maintained to an acceptable standard,” Cr Toppin said.
“We have had to introduce a $196 water access charge increase in this Budget to meet the extraordinary circumstances presented by an ageing water infrastructure network which has reached a critical point, and to ensure the Shire’s residents and businesses enjoy safe and reliable access to water into the future.”
Cr Toppin said Council had made it well-known before handing down the Budget that this significant increase in the water access charge was needed to help offset the costs of replacing a water network that was established more than 60 years ago and was nearing the end of its life.
“If Council did not act now, we would soon face increasing interruption to the water supply due to crumbling water pipes, breaks and service failures,” she said.
“Over the next 12 months, Council plans to invest more than $12 million in water infrastructure upgrades, including $7.6 million to upgrade the filtration system at Mareeba’s Water Treatment Plant.
“Council will spend $52 million on its treatment plants and network over the next 10 years and an additional $185 million over the following 20 years.”
Council’s 2021/22 Budget delivers a capital works program totalling more than $31 million, including $8.4 million on the transport network and $5 million on wastewater infrastructure, in addition to the water infrastructure upgrades.
The Shire’s renowned liveability is also a Budget priority, with more than $4 million to be spent on community facilities, culture and libraries, $2.7 million for parks, gardens and reserve maintenance, and $693,000 for biodiversity protection, as well as delivering $729,000 to promote tourism and economic development.
Cr Toppin said Council was grateful for state and federal government grants which have enabled Council to deliver a range of projects meeting community needs, that would otherwise have been impossible.